Department of Youth Affairs holds annual oratorical contest

Jin Chung and Ella Marie Cepeda (PNC photo by Isaiah Aguon)

The Department of Youth Affairs held its annual oratorical contest at the Congress building Monday night and selected two individuals who will stand alongside the Governor and Lt. Governor during the proclamation of April as Youth Month.

For the past 20 years, DYA has organized this contest to give teens a platform to speak about their viewpoint on environmental and community issues during Youth Month.

The department canceled the oratorical contest last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s theme is “We Are In This Together” and contestants spoke about how the COVID pandemic affected their school and personal life.

15-year-old Jin Chung won the contest at the High School Division level.

He is a sophomore student at St. John’s school.

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Chung said he wanted to participate in the contest because growing up he was into public speaking but had a stutter as a kid.

“And I tried public speaking as a way to combat that so I kind of participated in this contest to see how far I’ve gone and how much I’ve improved compared to when I was little,” he said.

He added that he is super excited about the experience because it’s not everyday that you get to work alongside the Governor.

Chung encourages his peers to participate in future oratorical contests.

“Remember there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that now it may seem tough, we are in a period of transition, a limited space if you will, but just know that once you get through the challenges in life there will be more to come. There will always be that kind of satisfaction when completing this difficult task,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ella Marie Cepeda won the contest in the middle school division.

Cepeda stated that she wanted to speak about her thoughts and feelings because she wanted to represent the youth.

She says that she was surprised to hear that she won the competition.

“I remember them telling me that you will become the Governor and Lt. Governor for a day so that was pretty exciting,” she said.

Jin Chung and Ella Marie Cepeda will participate in a virtual signing ceremony along with Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Joshua Tenorio to proclaim April as Youth Month.